15:36 PM

Minn. Members Assist Natl. Guard PPE Mission

2nd Lt. Joseph Calandra Jr.
Assistant  Public Affairs Officer
Minnesota Wing

Eighteen members from the Minnesota Wing devoted 184 volunteer hours over five days the week before Christmas to supporting Minnesota National Guard COVID-19 mitigation efforts.

The members assisted with packing, organizing and storing personal protective equipment (PPE) gowns, gloves, masks and face shields - for distribution to health care workers in prisons and medical facilities throughout the state.

Acting as a Total Force partner and the official civilian auxiliary of the Air Force, CAP is aligned with First Air Force to rapidly respond to nonmilitary threats domestically when tasked in a Defense Support of Civil Authorities capacity to save lives, relieve suffering, prevent property damage and provide humanitarian assistance.

 On the mission’s second day, 13 cadets and senior members assembled 200 boxes containing 19,000 K-90 surgical masks, 1,536 face shields, 3,000 Level 1 gowns and 6,000 medical gloves in just six hours — an accomplishment that normally would have required two days.

Wing members also assisted National Guardsmen with reorganizing PPE storage in the warehouse for later distribution, including 211,200 surgical masks.

Several National Guardsmen told the wing mission’s supervisor, 1st Lt. Heike Dodge, Crow Wing Composite commander, that they found volunteers “efficient and well-organized, which improved the efforts of both organizations.”

When asked why she signed up for the mission, Cadet Lt. Col. Lillian Glover, St. Paul Composite Squadron cadet commander, said she was looking to “do something good” while on break from school. Her mother, 1st Lt, Marlies Gronewaller, the squadron’s deputy commander for cadets, participated in the mission as well. Gronewaller said she wanted to serve with her daughter and her friends because she too saw the mission as “a good opportunity for community service.”

Maj. Tom Fitzhenry, the Minnesota Wing’s director of operations and incident commander for the mission, said the National Guardsmen “were all impressed with how well [and] how hard they worked. They were not accustomed to a group coming in and being able to get instructions and complete the task without constant supervision, and [they] said we were the best yet.”

Should the need for such service arise again, “we have members that are well-equipped to complete these missions,” Fitzhenry said.